Sunday, April 26, 2015

Hot Docs 2015 Film Review - Daughter of the Lake

An elderly Andean woman lives and works on her family farmland watched by the mining company security forces. The mining company wants her off her land, as there are deposits of gold lying beneath. Her friend Nelida comes to visit often asking about the status of the local water and food source the Blue Lake and her efforts to keep the mining security forces at bay. Neilda is going to law school in the city in an attempt to have formal training to battle the corporations. Her actions have a negative impact on her family as her dad is let go from his manual labour job at the mine. When Nelida asked her dad about the dismissal he openly states that it was due to her activist activities.

Director Ernesto Cabellos shines a light on the plight of rural Peruvians as they struggle against the might of corporations that are strongly supported by the government and who suck the water away from communities to support their operations. The documentary looks at two main communities at different stages of deterioration the Andean rural lands and Totora, Oruro Bolivia where the treasure was tin and the community is left with only one water source amongst a sea of sand, dirt and dust.

The production shines in the visual display of the films major settings. The Andean land is green and lush with the centrepiece Blue Lake. The residents are often forced to wear water boots as water bubbles up from the earth below. But across the way is the mining company with its mass earth excavation winding dirt roads and industrial vehicles moving in and out of the site. The rural land has fish in the lakes, birds in the trees and animals grazing. The third settling is the concrete filled noisy cities first Cajamarca where Nelida is studying law then the capital city of Lima.

One particular intriguing interlude is a short encounter with a group of women who work in a mine in Oruro Bolivia.  Cabellos uses a dolly came to follow the women into the mine with the lights of their helmets being the only source of illumination. The women are there to provide for their families and the sequence gives a real feel of the tight working quarters. The women discuss how they had to fight against the men to gain jobs at the mine as they were told that women in the mine would upset the spirits rendering the mine barren. Their day ends as they push out a mining cart with the days haul. The firefly like helmet lights growing in size and illumination as the women emerge into the daylight leading to the best transition of the piece to a jewellery store in Amsterdam. Here we meet the end product at the store of a jewellery designer who has made a conscious effort to use source materials that are produced as humanly as possible. The production follows her on a trip to the region where she sees gold being produced but even she can see the hard labour of the locals that produced 15 grams of gold in a 24 hour period paired with the massive clearing of the jungle for the mine operations may not be in the best interest of the planet.

Daughter of the Lake is an insightful study of the ongoing struggle between rural and city, corporations and natural environment. The film's opening words are Water = Blood; Earth = Life and Lake=Mother.  The following shot is an explosion of dynamite as another part of the countryside loses out to the business of mining. The rural residence are watchful, prepared and ready to protect the land and its resources. Their dilemma; the short term easily gain presented to governments by mining corporations that take from the land for profit and benefit of their investors.

***  Out of Four.

Daughter of the Lake | Ernesto Cabellos | Peru /Bolivia / Netherlands | 2015 | 87 Minutes.

Tags; Water, Peru, Bolivia, Mining, Gold, Tin, Diamonds, Rural, City, Law, Activist, Andean Amsterdam.

No comments:

Post a Comment